March 22, 2004

Tweet, tweet, buzzzz, click, tweet!

Two weeks ago -- on Labour Day weekend (in March!) -- we went to the Dandenong Ranges, about an hour outside of Melbourne. This day trip, as it turned out, was all about birds. Birds galore. I can't stress enough how many birds we saw.

And heard! The highlight of the day was hearing and seeing several Superb Lyrebirds.

The Superb Lyrebird is a highly accomplished mimick. Not only can it imitate other bird sounds, but it also does excellent impressions of camera shutter clicks, chainsaws, car alarms, and more. We didn't manage to get a picture of the lyrebird, sadly, because getting anywhere near one required some pretty patient and stealthy manoeuvering on our part. But luckily, as promised, you can hear one online! And hearing them was really the best part, the males' unbelievable plumage notwithstanding. Here are some good websites where you can listen to a Superb Lyrebird:

  • PBS has an interesting bird songs documentary with an impressive streaming RealAudio lyrebird call.
  • This page, kindly suggested by one of our readers, has links to lyrebird calls online as well as pictures. The page also features the PBS recording of the lyrebird, which loads and plays automatically if you're Real Audio-enabled (controls at bottom of page). Clicking on the lyrebird picture at the bottom right gets you this page with pictures of the lyrebird and more birdcall links.
  • The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) Archives and library services has a huge number of birdcalls, including the lyrebird (haven't listened to this one myself, yet).

The hike we did ended at a picnic ground replete with -- you guessed it -- birds. Here the big excitement was that we saw our very first kookaburra, which allowed Miriam to finally sing the Kookaburra Song (harsher alternative endings here and here).

If you want to see some pictures of all of these birds, you can check out our Dandenong Ranges photo gallery.

Posted by anatole at March 22, 2004 02:05 AM

Hey there,

Nice new photos! Love the "Wheeeeeee"... I dubbed the road in to my cousin's cottage the "Whee Road" when I was six because its bumps produced a swooping effect.

Do you think it would be possible to index your various escapades to a map of some kind? Otherwise you might as well be in, I don't know, Wollongong... It would certainly help us armchair koalas learn something about Australian geography.

Also, I propose a topic for further study: what's with Australian names? How did this happen? I'm assuming they're Aboriginal but sometimes they just sound like something up with which a profoundly drunk sheep farmer trying to come up with a name might come.

Steeping in grammar,


Posted by: George at March 22, 2004 03:22 PM

Yay! More pictures! For the record, I'm putting money on the cockatoos over the kid feeding them. They may be pretty, but they had the steely gaze of birds about to roll him for his lunch money.

Posted by: Tyla at March 22, 2004 03:36 PM

These are great photos! And for the record, I am so an "armchair koala"

Posted by: Lana at March 23, 2004 12:59 AM